Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ponnar and Shankar Part IV: Marriage

  • The twin brothers of Ponnivala are now sixteen years of age. They were born when their parents were already middle aged. The couple are now becoming quite old. Understandably, Tamarai is starting to worry about her sons’ marriages.  

  • As a mother, Tamarai dreams of this grand event regularly. She wants to see her sons’ weddings completed before she and her husband pass on.

  • Ponnar kneels before his mother, explaining gently that he and his twin brother are not yet ready to marry. But their mother is insistent that her sons wed a set of sisters in a joint ceremony. These two girls are close relatives, brides-to-be their mother chose for them long ago. The brothers finally agree but set one very stiff condition. They will never touch their wives, either during the ceremony or at any time thereafter!

  • All the arrangements are made. Two palanquins set off for the wedding. Oddly, it will be celebrated in a sort of no-mans-land. This is similar to the location selected for the twins’ parents’ own wedding many years earlier. Only Ponnar, the more passive and compliant brother, travels with the family entourage. He and his sister Tangal share a palanquin while their parents sit in the lead sedan. Shankar stays back at the palace saying that he will follow at a later point.

  • The Brahman priest is at the wedding sit already. He takes Ponnar, the “elder” twin, through the preliminary rituals. The family agrees that this one brother will be the stand-in for both men, at least for now.

  • A key part of the wedding preliminaries in the Ponnivala region is a ceremony that recognizes the lasting bond that will continue to exist between brother and sister, even after the marriage. Ponnar and Tangal walk around the ritual fire together to celebrate this idea. They jointly hold a sari between them, under their right arms. The sister also carries a number of key items to be given to the bride in a winnowing basket resting on her head. These rituals are intended to symbolize the hopeful vision family members share of another wedding in the distant future, one between the groom’s yet-to-be-born daughter and his sister’s yet-to-be-born son!

  • Meanwhile, back at the palace, Shankar has finally dressed up in his wedding silks. He is about to mount his beloved blue-black horse, Nila, which his faithful assistant has brought to the front door.

  • Shankar sets off at a fast gallop for the wedding site. His with his supernaturally talented assistant Shambuga runs behind him at lightning speed.

  • The way is rocky and dangerous but Shankar has no fear. He loves riding his beautiful blue-black horse! At some points he feels like he is about to fly!

  • Shankar arrives and enters the wedding arena where he sits down beside his “elder” twin. The brides are seated next to these two men for the key ritual where they will worship the sacrred fire the Brahman priest has already lit.

  • Next the two grooms tie wedding necklaces on their brides. There is a curtain between them to symbolize their modesty during this key symbolic event. You can see by their eyes, however, that both girls are quite frightened of what the future may hold for them.  

  • As soon as the central wedding moment is over Shankar leaves the ritual space and calls Shambuga to bring his horse. He leaves instructions with this loyal assistant to take the two brides to the small palace home where they will live out their lives together. Then he leaves without saying as much as one word to his new wife.

  • The two brides are asked to climb into one of the family palanquins and servants carry them to a place near their new home that Shankar has designated.

  • When the two women dismount Shambuga greets them and orders the two ladies to follow him.

  • After the wedding life in the kingdom of Ponnivala continues on as before. The twin brothers worship their family goddess three times each day and the lands around them prosper.

  • But there are already signs that these two young heirs to their father’s powerful kingdom are choosing a different life style from the one their parents have followed. There is a gaming room in the palace and these two young heroes soon become addicted to playing dice. They love the idea of danger. They seek adventure and wish to live life on the edge. Their swords are always at their sides. Indeed, every time they choose to play dice something serious and challenging happens in the wider world… something that will provide them with a fresh and fearful challenge!
[<==Back to Part 3]

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